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If I Can't Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the Murder of Her Children
Rebecca Morris, Gregg Olsen
Skin Deep
Liz Nugent
The Good Daughter
Karin Slaughter
A Boy in Winter
Rachel Seiffert
The Idiot (Everyman's Library, #254)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear
The Velvet Hours
Alyson Richman
Behind Her Eyes: A Novel
Sarah Pinborough

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather   Morris The power of Love. The Tattooist of Auscwitz is a love story that has stood the test of time and a book that portrays one mans determination to survive against the odds

This is the true story of Lale Sokolov the tattooist of Auschwitz and how found love in the concentration camp. The book is well written, emotional and the story itself is interesting and uplifting. A love story that develops against all that is evil really is worth telling and reading about.
I have read quite a lot of Non Fiction books on the Holocast but I think this was my first book about a romance within the camp.
The book doesn't go into depth on the War although it does depict the horrors of the camp quite well but the story centers more around the romance between Lale and Gita. While I enjoyed the book and found it as nice easy read I was left wanting and I think I had expected more from this one but this is me and not the book as I know so many of my friends have loved this one.
I listened on audible and found the narrator adequate but didn't add anything to the experience for me. I did like the notes at the end as this does clarify what happened afterwards and I believe the hard copy contains photos which I googled as this is something you miss with audio eversion.

An interesting read but not one for my faviourites shelf.

Educated: A Memoir

Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover Written with the skill and resonance of a work of fiction, Tara Westover's memoir is heart-breaking and frank and yet hopeful in its telling.

Westover was born in 1986, grown up in a rural Idaho radical Mormon Family dominated by her father Gene who was determined to raise his children away from the clutches of the government and the wider world. She had never heard of the Holocaust, Napoleon, or Martin Luther King and she had thought Europe was a country. When she gains a place in college through self education at the age of 16 Tara's enlightenment begins and she is at last EDUCATED.

This is without doubt a terrific, page turning book, well written, often times brutal and shocking. It is difficult to understand that a family lived and raised children in these conditions and isolation in the 80s and 90s and this book for me read more like an account from sometime back in the 30s/40s. However this is Tara's story warts and all and she tells it well. I admired how she overcame her obstacles and produced an amazing book as well as an opportunity to tell her story to the world. A compelling and interesting read and a writer than oozes talent and I look forward more work by Tara Westover.

After reading a book like this I am always conscious of the family members behind the story and how they feel about their dirty laundry being aired in public and I researched a little on the internet and there are members of her family who don't seem to agree with Tara's memories or some of the accounts in this book and I am sure books like this can be quite painful for families to read. However this is Tara's story and I can only read,review and rate the book on the written word in front of me and how I reacted to those words

Recommended reading and a book that would make a terrific book club read.

My thanks to Net Galley for an opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

The Rape of Nanking

The Rape of Nanking - Iris Chang By far the most painful book I have ever read and yet a book that should be READ, passed on, READ, passed on, READ and passed on and ON so that new generations of people learn what those forever silent can't relate to their loved ones because they themselves have been Massacred

I came across this book having just finished [b:White Chrysanthemum|34701167|White Chrysanthemum|Mary Lynn Bracht|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1494295249s/34701167.jpg|55879846] a historical fiction account of The Comfort Women and wanting to read more on this time in history I found this book.
The Nanking Massacre was an episode of mass murder and mass rape in 1937 that lasted for 6 weeks, committed by Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (Nanking), then the capital of the Republic of China, during the Second Sino-Japanese War. More than 300,000 chinese civilians and soldiers were systematically raped, tortured, beheaded and murdered in the most unthinkable and horrific ways.
I have been vaguely aware of this terrible time in histroy but have never read anything about it and when I discussed this book with my work colleagues not one of them had heard of the Rape of Nanking or read or seen any documentaries related to this massacare which in itself is pretty shocking as this was a Holocaust which the world seems to have conveniently forgotten or swept under the carpet.

This is a DIFFICULT read as the descriptions of the atrocities are very very graphic but thankfully for me I only had to read about it and not endure it or witness it therefore the nightmares I experienced after reading passages in this book are nothing compared to what Chinese people still seeking justice must experience when they read a book like this and think how their ancestors met their fate.
An extremely well written and researced book and the author uses sources such as diaries, government documents, newspapers reports and interview with survivors.

Where there is evil there is sometimes amazing acts of bravery and heroism and this book really does highlight a few amazingly good people who saved thousands and I loved how the author researched and highlighted their stories and the good work they did among all the evil.
I was shocked, sickened, saddened and angry reading this book but above all I was EDUCATEDand I have already ordered two copies of this book for family members.
The Life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living. Marcus Tullius Cicero

A WORD OF WARNING WHILE I THINK THIS IS A BOOK WHICH MANY SHOULD READ THERE ARE VERY GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF THE ATROCITIES AND SOME PEOPLE JUST MIGHT WANT TO BE AWARE OF THIS BEFORE READING.

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World - Anthony Doerr What a book ! Sensual, Captivating and beautifully written. Anthony Doerr finds himself in the heart of Rome shortly after his twin boys were born. Having received the Rome Prize, an award that gave him a year-long stipend and studio in Rome he embraces the adventure and moves his family to the Eternal City.

I loved so much about this book, the writing is poetic, lyrical and so vivid, the author's descriptions of Rome through the seasons are breathtaking. This is a short read at 205 pages but Doerr never wastes a word as we walk through the streets of Rome with him and his enviable stroller containing two delightful and demanding babies. We see life in a small apartment with his wife and children and how they try to adapt to the language and customs of a foreign city where life takes on a new meaning as well as challenges. I loved the snippets of history of Rome sprinkled throughout the book and I spent almost every chapter googling places and buildings and really enjoyed this eloquent and witty little book. His descriptions of people he met on the streets on a daily basis was so vivid and real. All in all a suprisingly uplifting and delightful read and a lovely little escape to a city full of life and history and intrigue.

White Chrysanthemum

White Chrysanthemum - Mary Lynn Bracht A deeply moving and beautifully written historical fiction novel of human resilience and enduring love of sisters, a story about the Korean ‘comfort women’ prostituted by Japanese soldiers in World War II and two sisters separated as young girls but the bond of sisters remains strong and they never strop thinking about each other..

This was an eye opening and haunting debut novel by Mary Lynn Brecht and while fictional it is based on real life events that are harrowing and disturbing in places to read but I always remind myself that I only have to read about these events " real woman had to endure them and their families have to relive them in trying to find justice and peace for these women" and I thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and lean about a time in history that was not taught in my curriculam in secondary school. The people in this book are not just make up characters but flesh and blood people in the past whose stories need to be told through fiction or non fiction to educative and keep their memory alive and to seek the truth for a new generaltion. I have lined up a couple of Non Fiction reads to further educate me about this time in our world's ugly history.

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator was excellent, well paced and easy to listen to. I always find historical fiction books really give a terrific insight into history and although they are not 100% accurate they do tend to introduce the reader to events and people in history they may not have been aware of or might never read about and I think that is so important.

I am starting the Rape of Nanking a non fiction book about the Nanking Massacre and the massive atrociities committed by Imperial Japanese Army after it.[bc:The Rape of Nanking|95784|The Rape of Nanking|Iris Chang|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348687411s/95784.jpg|31912]

Penance

Penance - Kanae Minato, Philip Gabriel Having loved [b:Confessions|22674160|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1404750772s/22674160.jpg|4371200][bc:Confessions|18226111|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1381430396s/18226111.jpg|4371200] I was eager to get my hands on [b:Penance|31423183|Penance|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1481661472s/31423183.jpg|13673172] by the same author but unfortunately I felt Penance just didn't cut the mustard and left me feeling a little disappointed.

Set in Japan Four women, haunted by a childhood trauma. What really happened that day--and what followed, for each of them, in the years after?

I love how this author writes and she packs so much in such a short novel, terrific character development but because the story is told from five of the characters viewpoints I found it extremely repetitive and at times confusing. I love the darkness in her stories and while Penance has that element running though it I think[b:Confessions|19161835|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1401076501s/19161835.jpg|4371200] was much more engrossing and intriguing.
I look forward to reading more by this author in the future and highly recommend [b:Confessions|19161835|Confessions|Kanae Minato|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1401076501s/19161835.jpg|4371200] if you looking for a good dark mystery set in Japan.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death - Maggie O'Farrell I am a fan of Maggie O' Farrell Novels and love her descriptive writing. Her story telling is unique and fresh. Her latest book is totally different as it's a memoir that is quirky, interesting, honest, revealing and vivid.

Told through 17 near death experiences that the author experienced throughout her life, you find yourself reading with bated breath as O Farrell draws you in with words and descriptions that make the reading experience very real and poignant.

At O’Farrell’s near-catastrophic childbirth, a mysterious man in beige steps in with an unexpected kindness. She writes, “When he took my hand he taught me something about the value of touch, the communicative power of the human hand." . A simple gesture and yet this has simple act had such an effect on the author and on me as a reader it simply brought tears to my eyes.

It's a book that makes you question your own life experiences and you find you dig deep in your own past of near misses that you may never have thought about until you read this book. I found her experiences with hospitals, consultants and doctors very interesting and frank. I was a little worried to begin with that this book would be morbid and difficult reading but O' Farrell manages to keep it upbeat and while there were times my heart strings were tugged and I felt tears prickling, there were other times I smiled and felt uplifted and this is due to the author's exquisite prose.
I am, I am, I am is not narrated chronologically but by the organ or body part primarily affected, which may seem odd to begin with but make sense as you read the book.

The first story in the book is called NECK and sent shivers down my spine, chilling but so well recounted that you feel you are there with O' Farrell in this terrible moment and each and every story had pretty much the same effect on me.

I listened to this one on audible and the narrator was excellent.

Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie - Joanna  Cannon 3.5 Stars
This was BBC Radio 2 Book club read for January and I have enjoyed many of of the reads on this list. Three things about Elsie is sentimental, witty and a charming read about ageing, memory loss and friendship.

The novel opens with the main character, 84 year old Florence lying on the floor of her flat in a sheltered accommodation village, While she awaits for help she starts to reminisce about things that have happened in her life and how she struggles with making sense of her past as her memory is now constantly letting her down and she struggles with secrets that have come back to haunt her.

A story about aging and memory loss can be sometimes difficult to read but Three things about Elsie is quite witty and a gentle read and its hard not to care about Florence and her friendship with Elsie.
There is a mystery at the heart of this novel which was entertaining but was quite predictable. The story does however give food for thought as we are all in the ageing process and sometimes its not easy to think about what the future holds but Three Things about Elsie is quite an endearing read and not at all depressing.

I think readers who enjoyed [b:Elizabeth Is Missing|18635113|Elizabeth Is Missing|Emma Healey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1388883559s/18635113.jpg|24946905] or [b:A Man Called Ove|18774964|A Man Called Ove|Fredrik Backman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1405259930s/18774964.jpg|21619954]may well enjoy this novel.

Satantango

Satantango - László Krasznahorkai, George Szirtes Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai has received numerous great reviews and write ups but for me this was a very depressing and claustrophobic read. Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2013 but it was the cover that caught my attention as I browsed in a book shop and I am a sucker for a great cover.

In the darkening embers of a communist Utopia, life in a desolate Hungarian village has come to a virtual standstill when the charismatic Irimias long thought to dead returns home.

When I started this novel it felt like someone had torn out the first 50 pages of the book and I had to figure out who the characters were and what exactly was going and to be honest the further along I read the more frustrated I became and at the half way mark I decided I couldn't take any more of this depressing and bleak novel no mather how much of a masterpiece it is considered in Hungary.
Another major issue I had with this book was there was no paragraph breaks which makes it very difficult reading and along with poor characterization and no sense of time or place this one was a non runner for me and sadly goes on my very small DNF list.

Dead House

Dead House - Billy O'Callaghan Dead House by Billy O' Callaghan caught my eye while browsing a bookstore lately as the cover and artwork is stunning and I am a sucker for a good Irish ghost story.
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I did enjoy the novel and O'Callaghan certainly knows how to create a magical sense of time and place. His descriptive writing of Irish landscape and climate is beautiful and real and this was one of the strongest elements of this short novel.

I didn't however connect with any of the characters or was I able to conjure up an image of them as I read the story and this was disappointing. The story was chilling and I loved how little bits of Irish history shined through as the harshness of the famime is brutally described. I really liked the ending as the author left a lot to the readers imagination which is what a good ghost story is all about.

A short novel with lyrical and descriptive prose and I look forward to future works by this author.

The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen The wife between us is an entertaining, relentless rollercoaster of a read, suspensful and packed with twists and turns and oh! that conclusion, a book that will have you questioning what you just read and even re-reading chapters just to be sure.

This was such a page turner and the least said regarding the plot the better as my advice is if you enjoy the psychological/domestic thriller style novels or books such as [b:The Kind Worth Killing|21936809|The Kind Worth Killing|Peter Swanson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1417981750s/21936809.jpg|41240456][bc:The Kind Worth Killing|21936809|The Kind Worth Killing|Peter Swanson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1417981750s/21936809.jpg|41240456] or [bc:The Secrets She Keeps|33584818|The Secrets She Keeps|Michael Robotham|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1486388451s/33584818.jpg|54397694][b:The Secrets She Keeps|33584818|The Secrets She Keeps|Michael Robotham|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1486388451s/33584818.jpg|54397694] then you might well enjoy this lively and fast paced novel.
I listened to this one on audio and it was very entertaining and enjoyable. I did find myself having to rewind and listen to the last half hour again just to get the facts straight in my head but the narration and pace was excellent. Having read (and enjoyed) 3 psychological domestic style thirillers in a row I really feel I have over indulged and am now in need of a break from this genre.

The Good Liar

The Good Liar - Catherine McKenzie 3.5 Stars

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.” ― Walter Scott, Marmion

When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.

Catherine McKenzie is without doubt a great story teller, creating a suspenseful and fresh thriller with intriguing characters who connect in a startling way. A book of secrets and lies that had me on my toes. The story is told in alternating narratives from each of the three women and we learn how their lives have been affected forever in the many twists and turns of the novel. Their stories start to unravel quickly as the plot progresses and while I liked the format of the novel I did find myself struggling to keep track of who was who and what exactly was happening but the story did settle down for me by the half way mark and I did enjoy the read.

A roller coaster of a novel which I think many readers will enjoy.

My thanks to Net-Galley for the opportunity to read this one in return for an honest review.

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice - Robert J. Browning Now this is an explosive, revealing and shocking read that had my complete attention from page one. Bill Browder's account reads like a thriller but its non fiction and is compelling reading for anyone interested in reading about High Finance, Murder and one man's fight for justice in modern Russia.
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November 2009 an emancipated young lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, is led to a freezing isolation cell in a Moscow prison, handcuffed to a bedrail and beaten to death by eight police officers. His crime? To testify against the Russian Interior Ministry officials who stole $230 million of taxes paid by his employer, financier Bill Browder.

This book shocked me in many ways and it was such an eye opener, its well written, fast paced and informative. The account of Sergei Magnitsky's life and death is heartbreaking and Bill Browder's fight for justice for a man who wanted to right the wrongs and make his country a better place to live is honourable and commendable. I didn't particularly like the Bill Browder in the first half of this book as he got caught up in the greed and power of becoming the largest foreign investor in Russia but by the end of the book I had softened a little. I think he did an excellent job writing and exposing the criminal activities and the corruption of modern Russia.
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A 5 star rating from me as I just couldnt stop thinking about this book on completion and I have since spent quite a bit of time watching documentaries relating to facts and situations mentioned in this book.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - Wolff-Michael Roth An ok read but I feel this is a book that has been hugely hyped by the media and certainly not the explosive read it has been labelled.

This book has been described as an explosive and shocking insight into life within the White House since Donald Trump became Presisent of the United States. I wanted to read this book as Ireland has a close and important relationship with America and decisions made in the While House not only affect the United States and its citizens but the rest of the World with it being one of the most influential and powerful countries in the World.
I didn't find this a particulary explosive or shocking read, if you have been following the news or media reports on the the Trump Administratin in the White House over the past year then I think you will find that this isn't a very shocking or revealing book but just an account of the bizarre Trump Adminstration and the people surrounding the Man of the Moment.

I think the media have hyped this book into a frenzy and while its interesting and certainly describes in political detail a year of the President and his family in the White House it isn't a book I would recommend as it rambles on quite a bit (just like some of Trump's speeches )and after about 2/3 of the way through the book it becomes repetitive and slow moving and to be honest a little boring.

I listened to this on audio and have to say I wouldn't recommend the audio version as the narrator speaks way too fast and I found myself having difficulty keeping up with him.
I don't subscribe to Face book and follow very little social media but I do catch the news on a daily basis and find that Mr Trump seems to appear even on the Irish News channels almost daily and not always in a favorable light.
There is a Speech made by the President at an event early on in the book that really had me in stitches and for this alone the book was nearly worth the read. Having said that its not a fun time in America and my sympathies lie with so many Americans who didn't sign up for this.

I think this is a book if you really want to read then don't waste your hard earned money on it, support your library and borrow it or perhaps the best advice would be to avoid it altogether.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness - Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein December bookclub read for my sit in bookclub and when I checked in my book shop for this Book and was directed to the ECONOMICS/BUSINESS section I did quite a bit of eye rolling, I had automatically decided I wasn't going to like this book and as christmas reading goes this was going to be a taxing read. But I was pleasantly surprised at how readable and relatable the book was and how our decision making can be influenced by Nudges of all kinds and how society reacts to Nudges.

Only 3 out 10 people in the group finished the book and yet the discussion created was lively and interesting with everyone participating and having an opinion.

Not one I would be recommending but certainly a book that has food for thought.

The Tears of My Soul: The True Story of a North Korean Spy

The Tears of My Soul: The True Story of a North Korean Spy - Kim Hyun Hee A terrific insight into North Korea and its harsh regime and how a dictator can brainwash a whole society from birth to death. A very short and concise book and yet it delivers on all counts.
I had a difficult job sourcing a copy of this book to read as it is very expensive book on all the regular sites but was lucky to get the loan of a copy as this was such a worthwhile read.


There is a free copy of this book online on www.scribd.com For anyone interested.

The Tears of My Soul is the memoir of Kim Hyun Hui, a North Korean female agent convicted for planting the bomb on board Korean Air Flight 858 in November of 1987 and the consequently the deaths of 115 people. In this book Hyun Hee reveals how she was recruited and trained, and provides details of the bombing. Her depiction of North Korea's Orwellian society is convincing and vivid, it depicts the brainwashing of a society and the Poverty and destitute the majority of citizens live in.

This is my third book on North Korea and I found this account a damning expose of the North Korean regime. It traces her intensive training and indoctrinate at various secret North Korean facilities, the bombing of a South Korean airliner, her arrest and trial. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is Hyun Hee 's introduction and education of western society and how she has to relearn history and facts about the world as the version she was taught was for the most part fraracated and distorted.

I did learn since reading the book that the proceeds of the book was going to the victims families which I found quite a little unsettling as I am sure no amount of proceeds from a book will help these families understand or come to terms with the deaths of their loved ones and while the book is important reading in understanding a brain washed society I am sure this book was very traumatic for relatives of the victims.

An interesting and insightful read and a book that gives insight in a country that is for the most part closed off to the rest of the world.